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Archbishop Lucas talks with a group of campers before lunch. DANIKA LANG/STAFF

Brady Sullivan, left, a member of Mary Our Queen Parish in Omaha, dodges a throw from fellow camper Keegan Greese of St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Omaha while playing gaga ball as Sam Kirchner, also of St. Stephen, looks on July 25 at Camp Virtus et Veritas in McCool Junction, Nebraska. DANIKA LANG/STAFF

Campers and staff gather July 25 for Mass celebrated by Archbishop George J. Lucas and concelebrated by camp chaplain Father Taylor Leffler. DANIKA LANG/STAFF

Summer camp forms young men in virtue

Building up young men in the community through faith and virtue.

That’s the goal of Camp Virtus et Veritas (Latin for ‘virtue and truth’), a Catholic summer camp sponsored by the Archdiocese of Omaha for boys entering sixth through ninth grades. 

The camp is held annually at Camp Kateri Tekakwitha in McCool Junction, Nebraska, about 10 miles south of York and midway between Lincoln and Grand Island.

According to its mission statement, it combines athletic challenges such as archery, tomahawk throwing, water sports and an obstacle course with prayerful activities such as daily Mass, eucharistic adoration, Bible study and altar server training “to assist boys to become self-disciplined and confident young men.”

“Through this formation, we hope to imprint within their soul a true zeal to know Christ and to embrace his plan for their lives. Our goal is to give them the confidence and strength they need to continue their faith journey and to help them foster healthy vocations,” the statement says. 

In addition to the campers, young men entering their sophomore, junior and senior years of high school lead camper groups as junior or senior counselors and squad coordinators. They also assist the camp chaplain as sacristans, preparing for Mass and eucharistic adoration. 

This year, Camp Virtus et Veritas conducted two back-to-back, weeklong sessions from July 21 to Aug. 3. Campers were divided into teams, with each team being led by a volunteer dad and two counselors. Teams chose names and had their own colors and flags they carried from activity to activity. Throughout the week teams also rotated responsibilities such as serving and cleaning up after meals.  

During work, play and prayer, activities focused on instilling leadership qualities such as handling difficult situations, acting maturely and working collaboratively with other people on a team, said the camp’s co-director Taylor Korensky.

“Those skills will set them up to have leadership roles at camp and then hopefully in other parts of their lives in the future,” he said.

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